I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

This book is one of the few which I knew the plot twist before picking it up. I tried my best to selectively forget what my coworker once told me a long time ago during a discussion on zombies and zombie movies.
This friend revealed to me that yet another Hollywood movie secretly adapted itself from a book. Only they took extreme liberties on the storyline.

Despite knowing the twist ahead of time, I still enjoyed it. The writing allowed me to understand the struggle of solitude and loneliness Robert Neville struggled with. It also gave much color to his experience of loss, both with his daughter and his wife.

I feel as if the shock of coming in contact with another human being is very abrupt and everything that unfolds in his encounter with Ruth passes by in a frenzy. I love how the connection is about companionship, not about lust.

I greatly appreciate the alternating areas of focus as Neville tries to survive — first it is the daily practicals of housing upkeep, then the study of the bacteria, all while battling his inner demons of survival. The fact that he is constantly self medicating with liquor paints his picture of solitude and suffering more real.

These are interesting internal struggles to me as in many concerns with people on how they would react to the end of the world yielded an explicit acknowledgment they don’t have the will to live and would not put in the effort needed to continue on. Robert Neville is an excellent example of human persistence.

Now to my rant on the movie adaptation. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching the movie. I’m pretty sure I saw it in the theater with friends and I found the portrayal of “modified rabies to treat cancer” gone wrong so plausible that I dreamed hidden zombies underneath my bed that night. But that’s just it. Hollywood turned it into a zombie movie, but this book is a very clear vampire book. Will Smith plays this badass who is determined and collected. He doesn’t have the internal struggle that is so clearly what Matheson wanted to expose with this post apocalyptic setting.

I now work in the movie world, and still have a great appreciation for the art of film making. With the recent announcement of Oscar nominations, I’m excited to say I’ve watched many of the films up for the big prizes. It is so critical to have a good script because it is the heart of it all. It is glaringly painful when you don’t, and no amount of directing or producing can cover that up. However, books and films are not judged in the same criteria, thank God.

I don’t have an eloquent end to this post and my time on BART is coming to a close. Until next time. A Canticle for Leibowitz is still on its way, but that’s what you get for borrowing books from the library 😬

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